Write way to health

July 4, 1997

Writing or talking about upsetting experiences can directly improve your health, says American psychologist James Pennebaker.

Professor Pennebaker has found that people who put upsetting experiences into words show improved health, with fewer visits to doctors and enhanced immune function. They are even more successful at getting jobs, said the University of Texas don.

"Writing appears to allow people to come to terms with what is upsetting. Now we are asking what is it about the writing and language which makes people better," he said.

According to Professor Pennebaker, there are certain ways of writing that seem to promote health improvement. Reflective narrative, with plenty of causal words and explanations, seems to have a marked effect, he said.

He added that people who use more negative emotional words when writing or talking about their experiences, and those who display a greater understanding of their emotional responses over time, tend to show the greatest health benefits.

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